FORT WORTH, Texas
, May 22
/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The United States
Department of Defense has authorized the release of funds to buy six
conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A Lightning IIs for the U.S. Air
Force, with provisional approval to purchase six short takeoff/vertical
landing (STOVL) F-35Bs for the U.S. Marine Corps following a senior leadership
review and the inaugural flight of that variant. The 12 aircraft will be
built in the second phase of F-35 low-rate initial production (LRIP 2).
The $2.2 billion contract authorization comes after the Defense
Acquisition Board's recommendation to release the funds and proceed with
production. "We welcome the board's decision and their vote of confidence in
the F-35 program," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president
and F-35 program general manager. "We're seeing excellent progress on our
production line, with 17 preproduction aircraft in assembly flow, the first
two production-model F-35s already under way and unprecedented assembly
quality across the board."
Long-lead funds of $197 million for LRIP 3 were released on May 14 for at
least 18 additional F-35s. The LRIP I contract for the first two F-35A
production aircraft was finalized and issued in July 2007.
The first F-35A test aircraft has completed 40 flights and has exceeded
performance and reliability expectations. The inaugural flight of the first
F-35B is on schedule for late spring/early summer.
The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation stealth fighter.
Three F-35 variants derived from a common design, developed together and using
the same sustainment infrastructure worldwide will replace at least 13 types
of aircraft for 11 nations initially, making the Lightning II the most
economical fighter program in history.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial
partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35
engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce
Fighter Engine Team F136.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about
140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design,
development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology
systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2007 sales of
F-35 and Lightning II are trademarks of Lockheed Martin Corporation.
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